The New York Times called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to indict and prosecute former President Donald Trump for alleged crimes surrounding the 2020 election and the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021.
The liberal-leaning newspaper's editorial board presented its case against Trump in a Friday opinion column, citing Trump's "schemes to interfere in the certification of the [2020 Electoral College] vote" and saying he "inspired" the Jan. 6 demonstrators.
"Mr. Trump's unprecedented assault on the integrity of American democracy requires a criminal investigation," the editorial board wrote. "The disturbing details of his postelection misfeasance, meticulously assembled by the Jan. 6 committee, leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump sought to subvert the Constitution and overturn the will of the American people.
"The president, defeated at the polls in 2020, tried to enlist federal law enforcement authorities, state officials and administrators of the nation's electoral system in a furious effort to remain in power. When all else failed, he roused an armed mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened lawmakers."
The board, which previously supported Trump's impeachment and removal from office, referred to the reported Justice Department's investigations into Trump's conduct regarding the 2020 election, the Capitol attack, and the classified documents found in his Mar-a-Lago home.
"If Attorney General Merrick Garland and his staff conclude that there is sufficient evidence to establish Mr. Trump's guilt on a serious charge in a court of law, then they must indict him, too," the board wrote.
The board claimed that specific crimes the DOJ could consider against Trump include his efforts regarding the 2020 elections in Georgia and Arizona, his efforts to persuade then-Vice President Mike Pence to return the Electoral College results to the states, and "seditious conspiracy" for Jan. 6.
"No one should revel in the prospect of this or any former president facing criminal prosecution," the board wrote. "Mr. Trump’s actions have brought shame on one of the world’s oldest democracies and destabilized its future.
"Even justice before the law will not erase that stain. Nor will prosecuting Mr. Trump fix the structural problems that led to the greatest crisis in American democracy since the Civil War. But it is a necessary first step toward doing so."
The Times editorial board went out of its way to compliment Garland.
"Mr. Garland has been deliberate, methodical and scrupulous in his leadership of the Justice Department's investigations of the Jan. 6 attack and the transfer of documents to Mr. Trump’s home," the board wrote. "But no matter how careful he is or how measured the prosecution might be, there is a real and significant risk from those who believe that any criticism of Mr. Trump justifies an extreme response.
"Yet it is a far greater risk to do nothing when action is called for."
In mentioning that former President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal, the board added that Ford had warned that, in the board's words, "such a prosecution posed grave risks of rousing 'ugly passions' and worsening political polarization."
"That warning is just as salient today," the board wrote. "Pursuing prosecution of Mr. Trump could further entrench support for him and play into the conspiracy theories he has sought to stoke. It could inflame the bitter partisan divide, even to the point of civil unrest.
"A trial, if it is viewed as illegitimate, could also further undermine confidence in the rule of law, whatever the eventual outcome."
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